Liam Neeson’s special set of skills includes exposing Watergate in this biopic of the whistleblower known as Deep Throat
“Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House” is no “All the President’s Men,” but it’s a decent companion piece to the 1976 journalism classic.
Where “All the President’s Men” told the Watergate story from the perspective of Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, “Felt” focuses on Deep Throat himself, the leaker who spilled secrets that eventually led to Richard Nixon’s resignation.
Liam Neeson plays Felt, a career FBI man who was in line to take over the FBI when J. Edgar Hoover died in 1972. Felt was a 30-year company man and had certainly put in the time, a fact of which his boozy wife Audrey (Diane Lane) isn’t reluctant to remind him. But when outsider L. Patrick Gray (Martin Csokas) gets the nod ahead of him, Felt is miffed enough that he begins naming names.
Neeson is steely and cool in the title role; if he could turn people into ice like “Frozen’s” snow queen Elsa, you wouldn’t be surprised. When he begins talking to a Time magazine reporter (Bruce Greenwood), he realizes the power of his words and the potential implications of what he’s saying. It’s an electric scene in a film that could use a few more of them, considering the explosive subject matter at hand.
Directed by Peter Landesman (the shoddy NFL drama “Concussion”), “Felt” unwisely sidetracks into Felt’s home life and his search for his missing daughter, thought to be a part of the radical leftist group Weather Underground. It’s better when it’s laying out its case for truth and justice, and the parallels to today are obvious. Are there any Mark Felts left, and when will they stand up? “Mark Felt” is asking that question just as much as it’s honoring its subject, but it’s not telling anyone to hold their breath.
‘Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House’
Rated PG-13 for some language
Running time: 103 minutes